According to Anxiety.org, “the difference between manageable and unmanageable anxiety could be as simple as owning a pet.” Studies have shown pet owners even have “lower heart rates and blood pressure levels and reacted better to psychological and physical stress and recovered quicker from those stresses.” So which K-9s are best at bringing the calm? Here, we’ve sniffed out the slobbery kissers with the most soothing power.
At six pounds max, they’re as low maintenance as dogs get, requiring little exercise beyond shopping for sweaters. Small enough to snuggle in bed and sympathetic enough to nurse Elle Woods through heartbreak, they will follow you from room to room looking for attention. An ideal distraction from your inner monologue.
Obedient and loyal “without being needy” (according to the American Kennel Club)—is it any wonder Queen Elizabeth can’t get enough? Quick to bond with humans, they are often tapped as companion dogs for nursing home residents and people with disabilities. They’ll adore sitting at your feet while you sip a comforting cup of tea. Right, Liz?
This squishy-faced lapdog deserves its popularity. Frenchies are flexible, even-tempered and all about snuggling away a bad day.
Sweet and extremely child-friendly, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s preferred breed is known to connect with kids facing mental health or emotional challenges, per Animal Planet. Plus, their fluff factor is off the charts. Just bury your nose—and your worries—in their long, silky fur.
Playful and affectionate, wiener dogs are also innately hilarious. You’ll be so amused by their everyday ambles around town, fear won’t have room to rear its head. (Hey, there’s even a museum dedicated to them.)
Golden or Labrador Retrievers
There are many reasons why Labs and Goldens (and their various doodle hybrids) are the most popular therapy, guide and rescue dogs. They usually ace the Canine Good Citizen test—the gold standard for certifying emotional support animals. Highly intelligent and easily trained, their always-happy temperaments can shift from playful to placid with ease.
According to Animal Planet, during World War II, Dr. Charles Mayo of Mayo Clinic fame took a Yorkshire terrier on his rounds to see injured naval officers. The Yorkie so lifted the soldiers’ spirits, he became the first-ever therapy dog. With a pedigree like that, a tendency to establish tight bonds with their owners and a willingness to travel anywhere by shoulder bag, this little breed has a whole lot to offer.
Despite being able to sprint up to 35 miles per hour, these gentle giants—many of them retirees rescued from racetracks—prefer to lie around. Incredibly sweet and docile (they rarely bark), with smooth soft coats, they make ideal roommates. Bonus? They “hug” by leaning their often-hundred-pound bodies against their human’s legs.
Loving, eager to please and tolerant of even the wildest domestic animals (small kids), it’s no wonder J.M. Barrie said a Saint Bernard inspired the Darling children’s nanny in Peter Pan (yes, even though Nana was a Newfoundland). These massive teddy bears can reach 180 pounds but only require moderate exercise. “They are not as active or nervous as some breeds and are content to remain close to home for the most part,” say experts. With their deep soulful eyes and patient demeanors, they’re like ashwagandha in dog form.